5 Things You Can’t Miss On a Pictured Rocks Road Trip

The untouched natural beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is unlike anywhere else in the world, especially near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This stretch of coast from Munising to Paradise is worth a visit for some of the most unbelievably beautiful adventures in the state. This is a great place for a family summer vacation, with a cool to moderate climate and unlimited things to discover. Come along as Jennifer from The Awesome Mitten shares five things that make this gorgeous area Pure Michigan.

The Upper Peninsula seems like it was made for adventures with incredible experiences available in both the summer and winter months. It’s easy to fall in love with the beauty of this area. With eighty four percent of the Upper Peninsula covered by forests and 917 miles of shoreline along the deepest of the Great Lakes – Lake Superior – this is the perfect place to get away from it all and have an unforgettable vacation. Don’t miss these unique experiences during your next trip to the Upper Peninsula.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

1. The Food

Brown Fisheries Fish House

With fresh fish caught within hours of hitting your plate, Brown Fisheries Fish House boasts the tastiest fish near Paradise. Served with either two or three pieces of fish, their ultimate meal is the Lake Superior Whitefish Baskets. It is the most delicious, flaky, perfectly flavorful fish you could imagine and all for an affordable price. This family owned and run business is very low key, so we’re letting you in on the secret of this amazing hidden gem.

Bear Trap Inn

When in the Upper Peninsula you must get a pasty, and you better know how to pronounce it! If you’re looking for a pasty near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, look no further than Bear Trap Inn. Served by some of the friendliest folks, their food is hot, tasty and filling. The unique interior is unforgettable as well, with rooms filled with taxidermy animals exclusive to the area and a bar with hundreds of numbered mugs for all of the locals.

2. Lighthouses on Every Route

Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Jutting out into Lakes Superior, Whitefish Point Lighthouse is the oldest operating light on this Great Lake. All vessels entering and leaving this treacherous shoreline of Lake Superior must pass this light. This light looks out to the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” where more shipwrecks have occurred than any other area of the lake so it’s full of remarkable and mysterious history.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

Au Sable Light Station

This active lighthouse along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is in the middle of astonishingly beautiful shoreline. Just west of Grand Marais, it is right around the corner from Log Slide lookout and in the opposite direction Twelve Mile Beach. The 1-1/2 mile walk along the historic U.S. coast guard road is worth the trek. With scenic overlooks of Lake Superior and areas that lead out onto Twelve Mile Beach, the beauty only increases the closer you get to Au Sable Light Station. With over 180 degree views, this landmark is a place not to be forgotten.

3. Small Town Adventures

Munising

The name Munising comes from the Ojibwe word for “island at.” This is the gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore since it is the largest and closest city to the area. This city boasts small town charm and great local businesses that are exclusive to the city. You can even see the stars from this city, whether it’s on billboards advertising Kid Rock’s “Born Free” music video that was filmed in the area of the Northern Lights.

Log Slide Lookout

Located about seven miles west of Grand Marais is Log Slide lookout. This incredible place is breathtaking, with views of where loggers used to slide logs down this steep slope and into Lake Superior, where they were then hauled away and turned into products. This is also a good place to glimpse the Au Sable Light Station.

Oswald’s Bear Ranch

With 29 bears, Oswald’s Bear Ranch is the largest Bear Ranch in the entire United States. Just north of Newberry, one man, Dean Oswald, created this preserve for abandoned and orphaned bear cubs from Michigan and other states. This unique experience allows you to see these incredible animals up close and personal while giving a loving home to these bears who weren’t able to live a healthy and normal life until they came to Oswald’s. As a proud associate member of the Zoological Association of America, Oswald’s Bear Ranch is an exciting place for visitors to take part in giving these bears a sanctuary for a better life.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

4. Waterfalls All Around

Munising Falls

The majority of waterfalls in this area are the result of water running over a shelf or cliffs of hard limey sandstone called the Munising Formation. This formation extends from Tahquamenon Falls to Laughing Whitefish Falls. There are quite literally waterfalls all around you when you enter this area, especially near Munising which even has its own waterfall named after the city.  Located within the city limits of Munising, a short paved trail leads you up the cool sandstone canyon along Munising Creek to two viewing platforms at the base of the falls.

Miners Falls

Just a short hike off of Miners Castle Road is the impressively powerful Miners Falls. The gravel path is a beautiful stroll through the northwoods wilderness that ends with two incredible overlooks of the falls. Make sure to bring bug spray, because you won’t want to miss this astounding waterfall.

Tahquamenon Falls

Well known for its sheer size, the Tahquamenon Falls State Park is one of the most popular attractions in the Upper Peninsula. With 46,179 acres, it is the second largest state park in Michigan. Tahquamenon Falls’ Upper Falls has a magnificent 50 foot drop, while the Lower Falls include cascades and rapids. Bordering along Lake Superior, the majority of this state park is located in Whitefish Township.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

5. Not Your Average Tour of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Stretching for about 15 miles along Lake Superior, these incredibly bold and colorful cliffs range from 50 to 200 feet and jut out directly from the lake. There are numerous ways to see these beautiful cliffs including Miners Castle which provides a wonderful vista of Pictured Rocks. However, the best way to experience these cliffs is by water. There’s a variety of different tours to choose from, but the only vessel that will allow you to get within arm’s reach from these massive cliffs is by kayak.

One of the most popular companies is Uncle Ducky’s Paddling Michigan tours. They feature a variety of unique experiences, but the most incredible Pictured Rocks tour is probably their six hour Sunset Paddle. With the sun at a lower angle, the cliff walls are illuminated in beautiful hues of orange and reddish copper. Gliding along the crystal clear waters and feeling the waves crash into the astonishing cliffs that rise up to 200 feet above you is a humbling experience that is breathtaking and mind boggling full of natural beauty. The journey features many landmarks including Miners Castle, Bridalveil Falls, Caves of the Bloody Chiefs, Mosquito river, and circling beneath the iconic Lovers Leap Arch. Whether you’re a novice or expert kayaker this adventure is built for every skillset.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

The beauty of this region is almost indescribable; you just have to go live the adventure for yourself. These were the most unforgettable places I experienced along my last road trip in the Upper Peninsula that I’d recommend over and over again. It’s incredible to live in such a diverse state that offers unlimited adventures. And Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is unlike any other part of Michigan because of the unique experiences that await around every curve.

What’s your favorite landmark near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore?

AM1Jennifer Polasek is currently a student at Grand Valley State University earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing. Jennifer splits her time working as a public relation and marketing intern for The Awesome Mitten and Opera Grand Rapids. She’s an avid adventurer and loves exploring the hidden gems within Michigan! She currently resides in Grand Rapids, but loves escaping to Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula during the summertime. She loves promoting Michigan because of its endless adventures and diversity. Follow her Mitten adventures on Twitter and Instagram

11 Amazing Photos of Michigan Waterfalls

Did you know there are more than 300 waterfalls in Michigan? Between the mighty Miners Falls to the ever-tall Bridalveil Falls, these majestic forces of nature can be explored year-round! For a little inspiration, here are 11 fantastic photos of Michigan waterfalls captured by our fans and other talented photographers around the state.

Beautiful photo of Miners Falls. Photo captured by Instagram user @Jeebs_media.

Beautiful photo of Miners Falls. Photo captured by Instagram User @Jeebs_media.

Au Train Falls. Photo shared by @domang.

Au Train Falls. Photo shared by @domang

A Michigander exploring Tannery Falls. Photo shared by @mega_vega.

Photo of TanneryFalls in Munising by Instagram fan  @mega_vega.

Munising Falls in the Upper Peninsula. Photo captured by @_toni86.

Munising Falls in the Upper Peninsula. Photo captured by @_toni86

The magnificent Tahquamenon Falls. As seen on Google maps street view. Check out a 360 degree panoramic view of the falls at michigan.org/googletrekker.

The magnificent Tahquamenon Falls. As seen on Google maps street view.

 Pure natural beauty at Wagner Falls. Awesome shot by @charlesgibson.

Pure natural beauty at Wagner Falls. Awesome shot by @charlesgibson.

Dead River Falls near Marquette. Photo captured by @heather_burns14.

Dead River Falls near Marquette. Photo captured by @heather_burns14

The rushing Ocqueoc Falls. Photo captured by Facebook fan Norm Powell.

The rushing Ocqueoc Falls. Photo captured by Facebook fan Norm Powell

A falling sun at Spray Falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Photo captured by Erika Atherton.

A falling sun at Spray Falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Photo captured by Erika Atherton.

Rock River Falls. Photo captured by Brian Nichols.

Rock River Falls. Photo captured by Brian Nichols.

An awe-inspiring capture of Canyon Falls. Photo courtesy of Facebook fan Fran Dwight.

An awe-inspiring capture of Canyon Falls. Photo courtesy of Facebook fan Fran Dwight

Which Michigan waterfall is your favorite to marvel at? Tell us your favorite place to see these natural wonders!

Waterfall Season in Pure Michigan

Melting snow feeds a web of rushing rivers across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and creates more than 300 waterfalls. Springtime is prime time for waterfall viewing, so Michigan Travel Ideas editors compiled a list of some of the most impressive in the state.

Tahquamenon Falls – Paradise
At a remarkable 50 feet tall and 200 feet wide, the easily accessible Upper Tahquamenon Falls are the largest in Michigan. In fact, during spring, more than 50,000 gallons of water drop each second, putting the falls in the top five largest east of the Mississippi River. The low rumble you hear from the parking lot builds to a thundering roar along the short path. Arriving at the wooden observation deck, you’ll see the reason for the nickname of Root Beer Falls (cedar tannins tinge the water brown) and feel a cool mist. Four miles downstream, the Lower Tahquamenon Falls split in two, with each half more than 100 feet wide and 22 feet tall. Rent a rowboat for a better look (and better photos) from the water. If you only get a chance to visit one waterfall this season, the Tahquamenon Falls are a definite must-see. For more information: 906/492-3415.

Spray Falls – Munising
Take a boat ride on Lake Superior to see Spray Falls plunge almost 70 feet over the Pictured Rocks cliffs. Hikers take the 2-mile-long North Country Trail to the remote falls. For more information: 906/387-3700.

Bond Falls – Haight
Park at the base of the falls and snap some incredible photographs from the viewing platforms along the 600-foot boardwalk. For more information: 906/353-6558.

Cascade Falls – Matchwood
Half the fun of this waterfall is exploring Porcupine Wilderness State Park on the way. Take the Valley Trail for a shorter hike, or if you’re up for a challenge, Bluff Trail provides a more demanding climb. For more information: 906/884-2047.

Gorge Falls – Ironwood
Five striking waterfalls dot the Black River National Forest Scenic Byway on its way to Black River Harbor. Gorge Falls is one of the easiest to access, but even it has quite a few stairs to the overlook. For more information: 906/932-1330.